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Majdanek is the site of a Nazi concentration camp, roughly four kilometers away from the center of the Polish city Lublin. Unlike many other Nazi concentration and extermination camps, Majdanek is not hidden away in some remote forest or obscured from view by natural barriers, nor was it surrounded by a "security zone". It was established in October 1941, at Heinrich Himmler's orders, following his visit to Lublin in July 1941. Majdanek was an SS-run prisoner-of-war camp, under the command of Karl Otto Koch. In February 1943, it was turned into a concentration camp.

Its name derives from a Lublin district called Majdan Tatarski, and was given it in 1941 by the locals, who were certainly aware of its existence. The original German name of the camp was "Konzentrationslager Lublin" (Concentration Camp Lublin).

At its peak operation, it held about 50,000 inmates. In the early months of 1942, plans were made and approved to expand Majdanek to contain as many as 250,000 inmates. Between April 1942 and July 1944, extermination took place in Majdanek using gas chambers and crematoria. The estimated number of deaths is 85,000, including Jews, Soviet POWs and Poles.

Majdanek provided slave labor for munitions works and the Steyr-Daimler-Puch weapons factory.

The camp was liquidated in July 1944, but was only partially destroyed by the time the Red Army arrived. Although 1,000 inmates were evacuated on a death march, the Red Army found thousands of inmates still in the camp and ample evidence of the mass murder that had occurred there.

Monument at Majdanek Memorial. It contains ashes of
human bodies found around the concentration camp

Camp commanders

  1. Karl Otto Koch (September 1941 to July 1942)
  2. Max Koegel (August 1942 to October 1942)
  3. Herman Florsted (October 1942 to September 1943)
  4. Martin Weiss (September 1943 to May 1944)
  5. Arthur Liebehenschel (May 1944 to July 22, 1944)

Sources and further reading

  1. Official Majdanek Museum
  2. Communique of the Polish-Soviet Extraordinary Commission for Investigating the Crimes Committed by the Germans in the Majdanek Extermination Camp in Lublin]
  3. An overview of Majdanek at